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Refugee policies and attitudes - UK

The definition of asylum seeker under #British law provided by article 18 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 refers to the country's obligation under international and European law. However, after having ceased to be an EU member, the Common European Asylum System is no longer applicable to the UK. Moreover, no agreement has been reached on an asylum policy during the EU-UK negotiations on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.⁣

The Nationality and Border Act 2022 was enacted last April to compensate for the legislative vacuum created by #Brexit. This new system treats asylum seekers differently based on whether they have entered the country legally or "illegally." If they enter legally, they are granted refugee permission to stay for a minimum period of 5 years, while if they reach the #UK through other means, they are granted temporary refugee permission to stay for 30 months. This disputable differentiation constitutes an unnecessary threat to asylum seekers' rights as it creates the condition for the state to violate art. 31 of the #UN Refugee Convention, which clearly states that states shall impose no penalty on an asylum seeker having crossed the border illegally.⁣

Research conducted by Opinion Matters in 2021 evidenced that the UK population is divided in half between those who believe refugees should be given the possibility to enter other countries (54%) and those who think they should not. Around 12% of respondents claimed they emigrated from their country for general economic reasons and not to flee war and persecution, and 21% of them associated the 'asylum seeker' with the word 'illegal.' Only 40% of respondents stated that the UK government should do more for protecting the refugees. Recent research (unpublished) also showed that British participants were more willing to help Ukrainian refugees compared to #Afghan refugees by dehumanising the latter group more and associating immoral characterisation with them. The British population also perceived Afghan refugees as more threatening and less deserving of asylum and support.

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